It’s no secret I’m mostly an introvert (or maybe it is because I’m an introvert 🙂 ). I love spending time with my friends but I also enjoy spending time on my own. I live in my head because I’m always thinking. It takes me a while to process things so I don’t always think well on my feet. I’m not a big fan of small talk. I’d rather be home reading a book than out on a date trying to sell myself to someone. I prefer written communication to verbal. I can let out a good, loud cackle every now and then but generally I speak pretty quietly. So quietly in fact, people often have trouble hearing me. I don’t like nor feel the need to sell myself to people most of the time or show off my accomplishments. I think for the most part I’m a good listener though admittedly I get too caught up in thinking about what I want to say sometimes.
I came across a book this week called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I wanted to find out more about being an introvert and how I can make better use of my introverted qualities in life.
Right off the bat, the book makes a great point that I had never thought about before, even being the big thinker that I am. In the States, being an extrovert is considered the superior personality type. Scroll through LinkedIn on any given day and see how many articles there are about how to be more assertive, how to be a go-getter, etc. etc. Being assertive, being social 24/7, speaking your mind…these are all qualities considered to be positive in our society. People who embody these traits are considered to be the most confident, the most likable and oftentimes, the most attractive while introvertedness is often synonymous with shyness and insecurity (even though, in reality, they’re two different things).
I never even really gave it a second thought before now but I myself have always considered what are actually my natural personality traits, to be negative ones; ones that I need to change. I’ve often thought that if I could just be more outgoing, it would be more advantageous. I thought that being introverted meant I was lacking something. That we are all supposed to be more extroverted. Admittedly, I have “come out of my shell” more as I’ve gotten older and become more confident. Much of my lack of speaking growing up was because of shyness (an actual fear of speaking because of potential judgement by other people) and not because I was an introvert. So as I’ve shed some of that shyness, a more talkative me has emerged. I still oftentimes have to force myself to make small talk with people which I think actually is a part of my being introverted, but once I do, I always feel better having done so. I also like making jokes and making people laugh which is part of the more extroverted side of me. Many of my friends are actually extroverts too.
We like to try put people and ourselves into categories…more and more so it seems as the years go on. It’s in an attempt to try and understand each other better, but it also has the opposite, more negative effect of making people feel strange or out of the ordinary if they don’t fit into one of those categories exactly. Being extroverted or introverted is a shining example of this. Most of us have a little bit of each in us because no one can ever be just one thing. You can Myers-Briggs yourself into oblivion but it’s still not going to totally sum you up as a person. More importantly, there’s no “right” or “wrong” personality type to have. Extroverts aren’t the superior type to introverts, they’re just different. Each type has their own strengths they bring to the table that everyone can benefit from. We need talkers as much as we need thinkers. We need careful consideration as much as we need immediate action.
As someone living with a disability, acceptance has been a huge part of my life. Acceptance from other people. Acceptance of myself and my disability. Now I know I can accept my personality type too. I don’t have to feel like I need to “fix” myself to be more of an extrovert because that’s the “right” way to be or because I will be more successful that way. I can still be who I am and have friends and a social life and be successful. I think in a lot of ways, I’ve already proven I can.
So to all those introverts out there, all the introverted-extroverts and extroverted- introverts, you’re just fine the way you are…